Wednesday, November 19, 2014

God is a Gamer - A Book Review

A few months back I got a forward that gave a rather cheeky lesson on understanding Banking ----
funny pics


Well, we have come a long way from what banking was; modern technological advancements have made the realm of banking easy as well as dangerous. While the many merits of online banking cannot be easily explained, there is equally a virtual assault over innocent victims and an increase in cyber crimes.

I still have a set of wary elders who balk at the idea of net banking and prefer to do it the conventional way. Well, the murky world online does intimidate us but that means we have to be extra alert and cautious !

Talking of uber savvy technological advancements,Bitcoins are another milestone in the domain of virtual banking that promises to take the world by storm. Still at an experimental stage the term was first coined by Satoshi Nakomoto whose real identity remains elusive. It is speculated that the brain(s) behind the virtual currency may be one or a group of people and this train of thought has been given a rich and a well imagined identity by Ravi Subramanian in his latest book "God is a Gamer'.

I have read Ravi's The Bankster and loved his style of writing. So this book was immensely anticipated and it did not let me down. From the sandy beaches of Goa to the Congress in Washington, all traversing effortlessly between FBI head quarters and Mumbai's corporate board rooms, the book is a delightful blend of mystery, suspense, lust, love, and a heady mix of murder and heist.

Aditya, the ex-banker's Indiscape, the top Gaming company is in doldrums and when his estranged son returns , his personal and professional front sees an upswing. And then comes a murder and things go awry.

So who is the hunter and who is hunted? Read the book----

Verdict (Yay's & Nay's)

Yay to

  • Juggling many parallel plots all over the globe, the book is well written and has a lucid narrative style. The fact that 99 odd chapters are kept short and crisp adds to the easy understanding. I did not have to constantly go back and remind myself of the characters. 
  • Twists & turns keeps you hooked.
  • Though loaded with technical jargon, it was easy to understand and relate to.
  • Liked the punchlines thrown in the book. Sample these
    • The world around you is changing—either adapt or perish.
    • Shit was happening— but you have got to clean up the mess and move on.
    • Reputation has no insurance.
Nay to
  • The plot became predictable at the end though I liked the rationale behind the perpetrator's decision to wreak havoc.
  • The many hues of gaming industry has been well explored and in that sense the book is strictly not a banking thriller.
  • Sensuous tales weaved in between does not add anything to the story. I thought it was just to titillate the masses and hence totally unwarranted.
  • While the story explains all about bitcoins, the wallet and its working, no mention of how to change them into real life currency.
  • No mention of money recovered from Josh’s apartment being credited back to the customers. The liability of the service render could have been grossly reduced thereby.
  • There was no single hero. Was there a hero or a villain ?
Final Word :-

All in all , a thriller that promises to bare the cloudy waters of life online. 

Author    :   Ravi Subramanian
ISBN        :  9780143421399
Price       :  INR 299/-
Publisher :  Penguin
Category  : Fiction 
Recommendation : Thumbs Up !

Thankyou Blogadda for the autographed book.

This review is a part of the Book Review by Bloggers at blogadda. Participate now to get free books!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Postcards from Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary, Thekkady

Want to experience an up, close and personal affair with wild life? Well, Thekkady is the place you gotta be. We went for a 2 day trip (+ of course the commute to & fro) in the first week of March; just when the exam fever was at its peak. This meant the place was relatively uncluttered. All we spotted was a bevy of newly married couples busy locking eyes with each other. They sure need to come back again to enjoy the sanctary :P :D
Thekkady is the home to a sprawling wild life sanctuary named after the Periyar river. This perennial river has its source in this sanctuary and hence the name to the sanctuary. The sanctuary is a rich repository of flora life and is abounded by evergreen and moist deciduous forests and grass lands. Herds of elephants, sambar deer, gaurs, nilgiri langurs, Indian giant squirrels, sloth bears among others grace this forest and cavort with ease in this natural habitat. Besides many winged beauties including Cormorants, sun birds, kingfishers, thrush, mynas go about their life with a chirrup & flourish. Spread over Patthanamithra and Idukkki, the sanctuary along the western ghats is nature at its very best. A massive portion of the sanctuary had been converted in to a national park since 1982 and hence visiting tourist can enjoy wild life at close quarters.

The sanctuary was declared a tiger reserve in 1978. But it is a matter of sheer luck if you happen to spot the striped majestic beast as they generally don't appear during the day. However sighting other animals keeps us enthralled.

We stayed in Aranya Nivas, a  Kerala Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) property . A lovely resort situated inside the wild life sanctuary, the hotel offers a variety of eco tourism programmes like wildlife boat crusies on the periyar lake, nature walk, hiking and rafting, Jungle safari, elephant ride and plantation tours so that the visiting tourists can go back satiated and soul happy. Except for the rafting and plantation tour, we managed to explore quite a bit of the options. However the 2 day trip was just not enough and left us completely hungry for more.

Boating on the Periyar lake gave us a peek into the wildlife. The tickets were arranged by the hotel on our intimation to them saving us from standing in a mile long queue.

We saw herds of bison, sambar and elephants leisurely trotting along the banks of the lake.

 Besides, the boat ride gave us a glimpse of many birds happily perched on the tree stumps. It was a pleasure clicking these birds and my hard disk is full of the various nuances of these birds.

Just before we left for the boating the monkeys on the pavement leading towards the lake had us mightily amused.

While in the sanctuary, we also explored Gavi Ecotourism..... Gavi as the pamphlet let us on is situated along the fringes of the tiger reserve.We went by a jeep arranged by the hotel after getting the permit a day before. The 20 km or so ride through the jungle early in the morning was a refreshing journey.

Gavi simply did not warrant a few hours stay. With its lush grass lands and dense forest, the place spells P.R.O.M.I.S.E to keep us enchanted. But we contented in staying on just to enjoy a boat ride and a nature walk. 

We were accompanied by a guide, a local fella named Kasinath. He was a treasure trove of information. The nature walk accompanied by him saw us climbing highs and lows of the forest. He so expertly guided us and also showed us the cardamom plantations explaining us how it sustains the livelihood of localites

The highlight of the 2 day trip in Thekkady was a mommy & baby elephant that had come down to play in the lake and after having a thoroughly refreshing bath went ahead and has all the fun in the sand.

All in all a trip etched with tranquil and sweet memories....

How to reach :-

Cochin International Airport - 5 hrs
Madurai International- 3 1/2 hrs
Nearest Rail Terminal - Kottayam
Drive down from Trichy/Madurai - Around 4 hours.

While the park is open throughout the year, the best time to visit would be after september till march. However nothing to stop you from packing your bags right now and go wild-life seeing!

Sunday, April 6, 2014

You are the architect of your own happiness !

We are the architects of our happiness ! This thought resonated with me throughout the week and I penned a lil something that echoes my mindset.

Exude joy and shed off negativity,
Nurture a dream and make it a reality.

Embrace change and continuously evolve,
Give and take respect, come let's all resolve.

Keep anger in check and let there be no grudge,
Spread warmth and sunshine and believe in 'God' the ultimate judge.

Accept failures in your stride and work towards success,
Remember, you are the architect of your own happiness.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Sorting Out Sid - A Book Review

I came across this picture from Google Images a few days back and it sent me into peals of laughter. My hubby's comment "spideman's shaadi ke side effects" further sent me into clutching my tummy and rolling over with laughter. 

Jokes apart, marriage is a huge commitment and it is happily-ever-after only if both the parties work towards it. Like Mignon Mclaughlin says 'A successful marriage requires falling in love many times and always with the same person'. 

I love Yashodhara's style of writing. Her blog and later her debut book Just Married Please Excuse showed us her tongue-in-cheek humour. Her latest offering Sorting Out Sid takes her writing skills a notch higher as she effortlessly blends humour into staid and monotonous situations. She highlights today's relationships with panache.

Sid the hero of the story is a happy-go lucky chap; who at the onset appears to have it all. A flourishing career, a happy marriage and a set of cool friends whom he hangs out with regularly - the world sees him as truly blessed. But all is not well as there are a lot of chinks in his armor. His marriage of 15 long years is going nowhere, his work where he gets promoted as the youngest V.P. offers him no respite as he is surrounded by a boss who appears a moron. His life gets a breather when he meets a charming divorcee named Neha through a close friend, with whom he has a few initial fracas. First impression is surely not the last impression vis-a-vis Neha!

I could relate to Sid as he dons on various masks while dealing with people/situations; so out comes the witty office Sid, party Sid etc. Don't we all, at some point of time in our life, resort to such disguises to get through difficult but unavoidable moments? Sid's conversations with his soul mate Brownie gives a glimpse of the solitariness and emptiness within him. Another character that caught my attention was the cheerful albeit intrusive and overbearing pal Aditi. There is a mention of something more to their relationship but she is a rock of support. 

The book is a breezy refreshing read and is laced with dry humour and self deprecating yet light moments. It never goes into a preachy mode;  rather it is something that we all can relate to or probably know someone like the characters in this story. The message of Work-in –progress was profound, implying that we all have our quirks and idiosyncrasies but as long as there is an urge to learn and unlearn we are sorted for life.

Yays & Nays :-

Yays to :-

  • Lucid narrative and extremely relatable characters.
  • A fun take on the reality of a person's life.
  • Sensitivity rules supreme as the protagonist goes through a variety of situations and emotions with an innate goodness.
  • An over-bearing father, an ever-doting mom, hectic work schedule, faltering relations, personal issues etc are dealt with by a well rounded balance of seriousness, mirth and laughter.
  • Absolutely rocking cover!
Nays to :-

  • Mandira’s character was given a weak deal. The author could have delved more in to what her issues really were; probably some couples are never meant to be but still 15 years is a long period of time to get away without some serious talking over.
  • The book could have done with a more slick editing. While page 71 talks about 15 years of togetherness, page 113 puts it as a 10 year companionship.
Final Word :-

A light n breezy read of real life situations.

Author    :   Yashodhara Lal
ISBN        :  9789350296912
Price       :  INR 250/-
Publisher :  Harper Collins
Category  : Fiction 
Recommendation : Double Thumbs Up !

P.S. - Thank you Yashodara for the book, my Hubby finished the book in 3 days flat with a smirk on his face and compared me with Sid :( especially for the emotional tantrums.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Prisoner Jailor Prime Minister - A Book Review

Elections are around the corner and the country is gearing up for a change at the grass roots. People are no longer divided between the privileged party and the saffron supremacy. They are willing to experiment and bring to power those who work towards bringing about a visible change. Have you seen the latest advertisement doing the rounds on TV - elections are indeed the biggest talent show and only the truly talented ought to be elected to run the country. With such high stakes it is not surprising that the game of politics played by the parties gets a high voltage adrenaline rush!

I once read a pertinent quote by Plato ~

"One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics, is that you end up being governed by inferiors"

Like any other informed Indian, I take an active interest in what our keepers of democracy are up to. It is but natural that I am much inclined towards political thrillers and the works of many authors like Jeffry Archer, David Baldacci and the likes on the edgy political set up keeps me hooked. 

The blurb of the book Prisoner, Jailor, Prime Minister intrigued me very much as one such political thriller and I must say that the book was truly an edgy read throughout, though not an in depth political thriller. 

Siddhartha Tagore, the protagonist of the book becomes the resident of 7 RCR in the year 2016/2017. He occupies the highest echelons of the democracy by virtue of his strong opinions and tough stands on hard core issues. That he is a truly gifted musician and considered as 'The Mozart Man' adds to his charming personality. Like they say that there is a thin line between genius and insanity, Siddhartha has his own personal demons to tackle and it is in those instances we get a touching glimpse of his persona.

The love of his life Ruby as he fondly calls is the wind beneath his wings and an inspiration to many of his compositions. Her character as well as the others like her dad, mom and even her twin sister have been very well etched. The book mostly a first person narrative through the eyes of the protagonist, traverses the life of Siddhartha from his days in Harvard to his days as the Prime Minister of India. Set in the backdrop of terrorism and attempts at nuclear warfare, the book highlights the current topical scenario to the core. Seamless weaving of the past and present without losing the plot is yet another highlight for which the author has to be given due credit. Once I started reading, I hardly put the book down and there was a palpable sense of excitement in my heart. At one point of time I secretly hoped that Sid turns out OK at the end; such was the connect! 

Another thing which drew me to the protagonist are his radical ideas to tackle threats. Hope we have such a person at the helm who is ready to take the bull by the horns! In politics, there is always an opposition and in this story too the role is very well essayed by Rukmani Devi. Her no nonsense behaviour as well as her passionate urge to bring about a change is well portrayed. I had guessed the great reveal that comes at the end of the book but it does not take away the gripping drama.

However I would have loved a little more political struggle. No way the book is a total political thriller; the personal drama and battles downs the political fracas of India which the book could have brought out.

Before I give my yays and nays, I have to talk about the author. Tabrik C the debutante author has managed to capture the readers with his fine narrative skills. That he is a perfumer and a political enthusiast/observer is obvious.  What I liked most is that his writing skills has the emotional connect. Looking forward to many more of his books. 

Yay to :-

  • Gripping page turner
  • Intense emotional connect with the reader
  • The book provokes the reader to think about the choices and the power to exercise his vote for the right candidate.
  • Loved the moody cover.
Nay to :-
  • Tad Predictable 
  • Not a hardcore political/power struggle as I expected it to be
  • The revenge drama was not top-notch 

Final Word:-

“Sometimes one man must fight for what he feels is right, even against the majority. Something that is wrong does not change to right just because the majority approves it, ignores it, or the government says it is right. It is still wrong.” 

― Kenneth Eade, An Involuntary Spy

The book has its moments and stands out for its brilliant display of emotions. That the book sends across a positive note and a hope filled future is laudable. Despite the fact that it is more of personal struggle of the protagonist rather than his political struggle, the book is edgy to the core.

Author    :   Tabrik C
ISBN        :  9789350096703
Price       :  INR 350/-
Publisher :  Hachette Publications
Category  : Fiction 

Recommendation : Double Thumbs Up !

Thank you blogadda . This review is part of the Book Review Program of blog adda. Participate now to get free books !

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Mangroves of Pichavaram

If you are in or near Chidambaram (Cuddalore District, Tamilnadu) and have a day to while away - think no further and head to Pichavaram. The mangrove forest in Pichavaram is one of the healthiest mangroves in the world covering over 1000 hectares. It is the perfect getaway from the concrete jungle we are living in. Covering over a number of islands, the forest houses such rich species of flora and fauna that in turn form an amazing ecosystem.

The mangroves can be explored by hiring boats (motorboats/rowboats) run by Tamil Nadu Tourism Development Corporation.

Armed with drinking water we set off for a 2 hour blissful boat ride in a rowboat under the SCORCHING sun. We must be MAD. The boatman regaled us with such wonderful information about the mangrove. His love for the forest was very much visible. He stated, as a matter of fact, that it was the forest that saved a lot of villages from being demolished by the Tsunami that wreaked havoc in 2004.

This mangrove is nestled in the backwaters of 2 estuaries (Vellar and Coleroon). These trees grow in the salty coastal area. They are abundant and dense because of the frequency that the seeds of the trees fall off in the same area and become plants all over again. Pichavaram literally translated means gift from the sea. The boatman talked about the medicinal properties of a lot of plants that grow in this area. He also said that research was being carried on to bring its usefulness to the outside world.

The boatman shared a very unique fact about these mangrove plants. They breathe through the vertical roots rising  above the water and the pores of the roots  take in only fresh water. Any salt that creeps in is shed by the leaves. 

The boatman effortlessly manoeuvred in and out of the few naturally formed canals He told us there were around 4000 such canals and many of them were in uncharted territories. 

When we asked him how deep was the water was the boatman simply laughed and got down off his boat to show that the water was only up to his hip. The water was not more than 3-4 feet deep but he did tell us that one had to be careful of the muddy slush in the water. We took in with silent amazement at the wonders of nature in its primitive habitat. Scurrying little crabs, snails and shoal's of fish caught our attention throughout the ride.

Talking about the birds, the forest is home to many species of native and migratory birds. 

We spotted cranes, egrets , herons, mynas, kingfishers, parrots and a few others.

As we wound our way back to the starting point, there was a strange sense of pang. Such beauty ensconced in a peaceful environment warranted being there for more than 2 hours. But there's always a next time.   

How to reach :-

We drove down from Trichy (nearest Airport) to Chidambaram. It was approximately a 2 1/2 hour drive. Stayed overnight in a hotel and made a few temple visits. The next day we drove to Pichavaram, which is about 16 kms from Chidambaram. If you are driving down from Chennai it must be around a 4 hour drive. The place is also well connected by bus from Pondicherry and Chennai.

Google Maps to the rescue for the route options.

Make sure to visit this wonderful world !

Friday, January 31, 2014

Sorting out Sid - Beer and Blogger Contest

Why would I like to read Sorting Out Sid?
  • I am a sucker for wit and humour. Yashodhara managed to give a heady dose of amusement and laughter in her first book and the trailer of her latest offering  promises to tickle our funny bones.
  • Sid - Whenever I hear the name, I vivdly imagine a carefree,breezy guy stuck in a rut and of how he manages to give it a spin and be back with a bang. OK, honestly it's the Ranbir (Wake up Sid) Kapoor effect. Hmmm, the name of the hero is a reason as to why I would want to read this book.
  • There's something about having a good laugh or two bemoaning the absolute morons our boss(es) can be. Reading about colourful characters in a corporate background = booting out gloom.
  • Hectic Work schedule, Stressful relations, backbiting colleagues, where do I go from here moments? Don't we face all these in our day-to-day life. I am interested in knowing how this dude sorts out all these. 
  • The adventures of Sid promises a twist in his life with the entry of a spunky and vivacious female - how will the story turn? I am intrigued! 
  • And yes, the cover surely screams ' Grab me'

Yashodhara is back with a bang. Her latest offering' Sorting out Sid' promises to be a rollicking affair. My very last minute entry is for the Beer and Blogger Contest in her blog.  Find the book on Flipkart.